Lymph swelling on the belly in horses

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Lymph swelling or general swelling of the abdominal or belly area of a horse can be a sign of a number of health-related issues. These issues can range from improper nutrition to disease.


One common cause of lymph swelling on a horse's belly is improperly prepared barley. When horses eat barley that has not been boiled or soaked, it can lead to swelling symptoms in the abdomen area. To prevent swelling, boil or soak barley for at least two hours before feeding it to a horse. Another way to prevent swelling is to roll and crush the barley before feeding it to a horse.

Diseases and Afflictions

Swelling symptoms in the stomach area of a horse can also be signs of a disease or affliction. Colic is a disease that causes gases to form in some horses from the lack of proper nutrition. This can be painful because the horse's digestive system can suffer impaction or twisting. Horses can also suffer from two types of hernias that can cause belly swelling in the abdomen wall or umbilical area. Hernias can be formed through either a congenital defect or through the stress of giving birth. Lymph swelling can also be a sign of cancer.


Treating the swelling can require as little as proper nutrition or a more aggressive treatment such as surgery. For instance, surgery can treat hernias and some cancers. Colic may be able to be treated through a change in diet. However, because your horse may be facing a different problem all together, contacting your veterinarian first is the best option.

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